It’s no secret that being an entrepreneur in any field requires a substantial amount of work ethic. You might call it “hustle”, you might call it “grind”. It’s the hard work of managing the controlled chaos behind the scenes, work that often isn’t “optional”. That’s par for the course for anyone who decides to start their own business. But if you ask Regina entrepreneurs what sets them apart from their counterparts in other cities, it is an innate need to come together, create community, and make our city a better place to live. Sean Stefan embodies these two entrepreneurial traits in equal measure with his company, The Rusty Shovel.
How it all began
Upon graduating from business school in 2008, Sean jumped into entrepreneurship with both feet. An early believer in the power of the internet as a sales and marketing tool, Sean started his first venture Sprinkler Daddy, where he sold DIY sprinkler kits online with his dad Randy. As the business grew, The Rusty Shovel was created as a partnership with his uncle’s landscape wholesale store. Initially a three-man operation, The Rusty Shovel is a full-service landscape supply and design company that has grown to a team of 15 employees.
Each day Sean makes a half hour commute into Regina, hits the gym before 6 am, and aims to arrive at the office for 7:30 to get some work done and check in with the team before the store opens. From there, the day is unpredictable and involves everything from dealing with contractors, to preparing for trade shows, to producing “How To” videos for the Rusty Shovel’s prolific YouTube channel.
From driving around delivering sprinkler kits in his VW Rabbit in the early days of Sprinkler Daddy, to driving in to work before sunrise today, Sean definitely knows that it means to “grind”.
But that hard work hasn’t stopped him from choosing to make a positive impact in his community. In a moment of serendipity, as I was talking with Sean last spring, he received some unexpected visitors. The Kennedy Family, the inaugural recipients of the Build Love Project, had come to deliver a gift and say thank you.
Sean had been one of the founding members of the project, which brought together eight Regina companies for a full-scale renovation of the Kennedy home in order to make it more accessible for their daughter Vienna, who lives with Arthrogryposis, a congenital muscle syndrome. The Rusty Shovel stepped up to completely re-landscape the Kennedy property in under two months at no cost to the family.
“Thank you so much…I don’t want to cry, but every time I look outside, I do,” whispered mother Liana Kennedy, visibly holding back tears. “Even the lights and the new grass…We’re just so grateful…We just wanted to say we still appreciate it every day.”
Sean smiled warmly, hugged each of them, then matter-of-factly replied, “If you have any questions about anything just let us know and we’ll come out and walk you through it.”
“I think that as business owners we’re leaders in the community and we get to say what kind of a city we live in.” – Sean Stefan
Working hard is valuable. It’s necessary if you have any kind of entrepreneurial aspirations. But caring hard is what makes an entrepreneur truly special. I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that entrepreneurs in this city care harder than anyone else. Thanks for caring, Sean.